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New graduate program awaits approval

March 27, 2008

A new graduate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) will soon be offered at UW-River Falls.

In February, the program passed initial approval by the UWRF Faculty Senate. It is awaiting final approval from the UW System Board of Regents. The Board of Regents will vote on the new program in April.

“The approval process is complicated,” TESOL professor, Vladimir Pavlov said. “The program proposal goes to all the universities in the UW System. They take a look at it and evaluate the proposal to see if the program is in the best interest of the state.”

There are other universities in the system that offer certificates in TESOL. The certificate courses are meant for practicing teachers who need to be certified to teach students that use English as a second language.

“A MA in TESOL is a higher level of education than a certification,” Pavlov said. “A master’s degree gives people the chance for promotion and higher salaries.”

The UWRF program will offer both a certificate program and a master’s program. The teaching certificate will be 12 credits and the master’s program will be 36 credits, according to the program’s Web site.

“Students can also use [certificate] credits towards their masters in TESOL,” Pavlov said.

Graduate classes will be offered in the afternoon and evening so that practicing teachers can still work towards their certificate or master’s degree.

“Acting teachers will have the opportunity to take one or two classes after they’re done teaching,” Pavlov said.

UWRF already has an undergraduate program in TESOL, but wants to expand the program.

“There are between 50 and 60 students in the current undergraduate program,” English department Chair, Laura Zlogar said. “We get lots of students who double major in a foreign language and TESOL.”

The program will offer unique opportunities for students. UWRF has an agreement with two South Korean universities that will give students the opportunity to take classes and teach overseas.

The first, Pusan University, has a TESOL graduate program and will allow up to 12 class credits to transfer between universities.

“We have a memorandum with them,” Pavlov said. “They have a graduate program for foreign studies and we accept their credits towards our MA in TESOL.”

Pusan University and UWRF will also send students between the two schools.

“They can take graduate classes at Pusan and teach in the public schools,” Zlogar said. “Then they can come back and the credits they took there will apply to the degree here.”

The second South Korean university that UWRF has agreement with is Tamna University. The two universities will offer a joint graduate certificate program in TESOL. The certificate that the student receives will be a joint certificate and be signed by officials at both Tamna University and UWRF.

“One of our undergraduates who is graduating in May wants to go to Tamna University to teach,” Zlogar said.

As part of the agreement, a professor from UWRF will teach a semester at Tamna University.

Other internships will be available that will allow students to teach English in several other countries as well.

“International experience and classroom instruction would be very good for our students,” Pavlov said.

The program is awaiting approval by the Board of Regents before being fully advertised to prospective students. It will be advertised both locally and overseas.

“We believe we have about 13-14 students who are interested already,” Pavlov said. “And more than half of those are from overseas.”

There is a lot of support for the program, and Pavlov says that he is optimistic that the program will be approved.

“It’s been approved by a number of boards already,” Pavlov said. “[The board of regents] have no reason to disapprove.”

If the program is approved, they will accept at least 10 students to the graduate program, Zlogar said. The program is expected to be offered next fall.